Criminal appeal provides second chance for Columbia accused

On behalf of Jack B. Rubin, PA posted in Criminal Appeals on Wednesday, September 19, 2012.

The right to file criminal appeals is one guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. A Maryland man convicted of murder in 2011 won one of these criminal appeals after an appellate court determined that the jury instructions given at his original trial were not sufficient. Now the man, who had previously been sentenced to life in prison, is scheduled to have a a new trial early next year.

The man’s original conviction stemmed from charges that he had gotten into an argument that ended with the shooting death of the second man. According to details of the case, the argument broke out at a gas station in Columbia where the convicted man had gone to buy cigarettes. The second man and two of his friends appeared and the argument ensued. The victim’s friends claimed during the trial that the first man left and returned with a gun, at which point he allegedly shot the second man to death.

The first man, however, claimed that the gun belonged to the second man, and that he wrestled it away. He said that he shot the other man in self-defense. At his trial, the jury was not instructed about the “imperfect self-defense” which would have allowed them to consider the suspect’s claim that he was in a “kill-or-be-killed” circumstance. In this type of defense, a person is eligible to receive a lower sentence if the jury determines he felt he was in a life-threatening situation.

The Maryland appeals court determined that the defendant’s statement that he believed his life was in danger should have been sufficient to allow the jury to receive that imperfect self-defense instruction in the original trial. His new trial is scheduled to begin in January.

Criminal appeals like this one are a method of checks and balances built into our legal system to ensure due process and can provide an accused individual another chance to defend themselves at trial when circumstances warrant the reversal of a criminal conviction.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Man convicted in Columbia shooting to be retried,” Luke Lavoie, Sept. 11, 2012

No Comments

Post A Comment